The FCC has voted unanimously to approve an order which will allow Ligado Networks to deploy a low-power nationwide 5G network despite an initial objection from the US defense department.
The Federal Communications Commission which is also a network telecommunication regulator in the US said that the approval order included stringent conditions aimed at ensuring global positioning systems wouldn’t have an harmful interference.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said via Twitter on Friday that the “Ligado proposal would needlessly imperil GPS-dependent national security capabilities.” Ligado will be able to use the L-Bad spectrum for which it holds some licenses. The L-Band is also used for GPS and other forms of navigation systems because the signals can penetrate cloud cover.
just this past Wednesday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, Jim Inhofe and other a top Democrat on the panel, Jack Reed requested that US President, Donald Trump bar Ligado from moving forward due to interference with GPS reception.
Ligado, the wireless satellite venture formerly known as LightSquared Inc that emerged from bankruptcy in 2015, has been working for years to deploy a network using spectrum in the L-Band to help telecom companies deploy 5G networks. U.S. private equity firm Centerbridge Partners LP is among Ligado’s principal owners.
But the FCC believes Ligad is required to limit the power levels of it’s base stations which is a reduction of 99.3% from power levels it proposed back in 2015. Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Communications Commission said the “vote is another step forward for American leadership in 5G.”
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said last week the approval “would greatly reduce the cost and time it will take to deploy 5G throughout the country and would be a major step toward preserving our economic future.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also backed the plan.
Meanwhile other executive branch of the government alongside the Pentagon, NASA and the department of Commerce and Homeland Security said the Defense Department “Strongly opposed” the proposal of Ligado because it would “adversely affect the military potential of GPS”
An Air Force memo warned that Ligado’s proposals to reduce interference were “impractical and un-executable” and would “place enormous burdens on agencies and other GPS users to monitor and report the interference.”
The memo was also signed on by some other federal agencies which includes Army, Navy, the Federal Aviation Administration, Energy and Justice Departments.
A coalition of companies, including Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, Lockheed Martin Corp, Iridium Communications Inc and FedEx Corp, said last week the FCC’s nine-year review of Ligado’s various proposals should end without approval.
Ligado said last week if successful, the deployment will “will improve mobile 5G coverage – both outdoor and indoor – and in doing so, accelerate the deployment of 5G networks.”